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HC dismisses Monsanto plea against CCI's order to investigate the company

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Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Delhi High Court has dismissed Monsanto Holdings Pvt Ltd's pleas challenging the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) order to investigate activities of the company and that of Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) over complaints that they abused their dominant position by charging excessive and unfair prices for the Bt Cotton technology.

The technology is aimed at genetically modifying hybrid cotton seeds to instill a particular trait resistance to bollworms.

Apart from the CCI's February 10, 2016 direction to investigate the activities of Monsanto, the company had also challenged the commission's order issuing notice to it on February 18, 2016 on an application by the informants, including Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL).

Justice Vibhu Bakhru rejected the challenge to the first order saying that it was an administrative direction and unless it was found to be arbitrary and unreasonable, no interference would be warranted.

"In view of the above, this Court finds no reason to interfere with the impugned order," the judge said.

On the second CCI order under challenge, the high court said it was "not maintainable" as the commission had merely issued notice and afforded Monsanto an opportunity to be heard before considering the application by the informants.

"This Court finds no reason whatsoever to interfere with the said order," the judge said.

Monsanto had challenged CCI's orders on the ground that it does not have any jurisdiction to examine the issues raised before it as they relate to the exercise of rights granted under the Patents Act.

The issue raised before it was that Monsanto was abusing its dominant position by charging excessive and unfair prices for the Bt Cotton technology.

Monsanto had contended that the remedies against alleged abuse of any rights by the patentee would fall exclusively within the remedies as provided under the Patents Act and, therefore, the jurisdiction of the CCI to entertain such disputes is impliedly excluded.

The high court said the contention was "unacceptable" and "bereft of any merit".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, May 21 2020. 20:18 IST
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